• Who We Are

  • Schedule

    Mondays ~
    Tuesdays ~ Snarky
    Wednesdays ~ Dreamer
    Thursdays ~ Naughty
    Fridays ~ Dreary
    Saturdays ~
    Sundays ~

    Whenever ~ Smokey, Mighty, Eerie and Wicked

  • Snarky’s Tweets

  • Kinetic’s Tweets

  • Dreamer’s Tweets

  • Wicked’s Tweets

  • Eerie’s Tweets

  • Mighty’s Tweets

Timothy Desmond brings THE DOC to the Swamp #suspense #interview

Today, fellow Black Opal author, Timothy Desmond found his way into our Swamp.  He even brought his  Suspense novel, THE DOC (arriving soon), with him. (heh, he may need that doc if Eerie’s Free Range Zombie herd gets riled up again!).

Rifling Of Old Cannon, View On The Inside

 

When a dying friend and fellow Civil War reenactor asks California physician Hank Houston to find his daughter’s killer, Hank has no idea what problems his snooping will cause. The last thing he expected to uncover was a US murder squad being run by the DHS. But this domestic black ops unit is determined not to be exposed and, as Hank gets closer to the truth, he discovers just how far they will go to hide all their dirty little secrets.

EXCERPT:

 

Hank just wouldn’t seem to die—so this time they were going to make sure…

The hospital hallway was quiet, with the exception of the echo of a patient chart being tossed on a desk and crash cart draws being opened and closed. A night nurse checked the current supplies. The cop at the doorway watched as a well-dressed man approach Hank’s room.

“I’m Doctor Terry Graf. I’d like to check on Henry Houston

The cop motioned for him to go into the room.

Hank had just closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep again. He remained asleep as Terry entered the room and removed a syringe from his pocket. The sterile snap of breaking plastic did not disturb Hank, as Terry prepared to inject him. He and Hank had been friends at one time, but this was a necessity. Hank had to go. There could be no loose ends.

This method was so clean. Hank’s nervous system would just go out and, with that, everything would shut down. There would be no pain, just total lights out, like a switch.

Terry kept the syringe pointed up, but hidden from the door, as he picked up Hank’s IV line. He followed the line looking for the piggy-back injection site. But he did not find it. The line led back to a pump on a stand.

He looked at the top of Hank’s hand. Damn. I could inject into the line. No, the pressure increase there will set off the alarm on the pump. Will have to risk waking him and go right into the vein.

Terry saw a shadow move on the wall and turned his head toward the door. A nurse stood there, watching him.

 

COMING SOON TO THESE FINE PLACES:   AMAZON  /  BLACK OPAL BOOKS  /  KOBO  /  BARNES AND NOBLE  /  ARe

 

Without much further ado, let’s just get into the nitty, gritty of Timothy’s psyche, shall we?

If you were to hold a dinner party for six, who would you invite and share at least one question you would have for each?

  • Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain – Did you ever meet California rancher and former Hannibal Missouri native Henry Clay Daulton, after your California years?
  • Ernest Hemingway – aside from the book “Across the River and Into the Trees” why didn’t you write the World War Two novel that was planned?
  • Lina Wertmuller, film director – Knowing the movie business as you do, have you remained as anti-capitalist as your characters?
  • Queen Elizabeth II – What did you like the most about Dickie Mountbatten?
  • Michael Chrichten _ Why did you leave Medicine?
  • Diana Gabaldon – You’ve written so much about your process and sources, is there anything we don’t know?

Whoo-eee, now that’s a dinner party, Timothy. 

 

As children we tend to have an idea of what we want to be by the time we’re ten. Before you decided to pursue the artistic dream of being a writer, what did you want to be and why?

At 10 years old I wanted to build cars. Yes. I didn’t know about DeLorian’s problems. At 12 years I wanted to build an airplane – like Lindberg’s Ryan NX211. At 14 I wanted to be an architect, at 16 an artist, at 17 a sculptor, at 18 a writer.

 

If you turned your laptop/computer/pen/typewriter (yes, some of still use these!) over to your character(s), how would they describe you?

They would probably say, “Dear Gawd, man, what the hell happened to you? You had it made in ’64, then ……. What? ……. a waste of a career.”

Many writers have that first novel which will never see the light of day. Out of curiosity, do you have one stashed somewhere? Inquiring minds want to know: what was your first attempt at writing and how old were you?

The first novel attempt was at age 34. Yes, it is stashed somewhere. The title was World War Four. It was a post apocalyptic story. I sent it around. To an L.A. group. Later the movie Red Dawn came out that had some similarities. I may have been ripped off. Too a Larry McMurtry book had a similar scene in opening. It proved to me that there is such a thing as “simultaneous invention.” Now, I would be very embarrassed for WW4 to be read.

Just wait, everything cycles. You could take it out, brush it off, add a few zombies and re-titled it WW5.

 

Whether we’re plotters or pantsers (outlines not needed), creating our stories takes us on very memorable journeys. Sometimes we may be part way through before we realize some major aspect of our story is just not working (plot, character, setting). Have you ever hit this sharp, pointy snag and if so, how did you escape?

Always outlined and always had problems. Last one my editors helped.

–Outlines (shudders) Although they do have their uses, just don’t quote me on that.

 

Were you battered and bruised or a bloody mess?

Initially yes, a bit of a bloody mess. But, it was a huge learning thing. And, as all that interrupted the work on another manuscript that started as a “pantser,” I have problems with that too, but have a better idea how to solve it all.

Share one uniquely strange experience you’ve had that remains crystal clear to this day.

Back in the 60’s we lived in the country away from city glare. The starry nights were often crystal clear. Around 1963, I began noticing a moving red light, in the air, north of my location. The silhouette of the mountain was very black under the stars. The red light moved back and forth, up and down, and hovered. I was estimating it was ten to twenty miles away. I tried to imagine if it was a vehicle on a far road. No, it was a UFO, and that was the first of several spooky sightings during a two year period. Coyotes barking in the distance didn’t help.

What’s the one genre you won’t ever try and why?

I know it is huge, and I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, but I can’t imagine writing “fantasy” type stories. Maybe everything we do in fiction is fantasy, but the Tolkien [spell?], romance, and others are good and great, it just isn’t me.

What is some of the best advice you were ever given?

Genres have rules.

–Probably THE best thing a new writer can hear.

 

What is the best advice you can share with others?

Try to be different. We all have favorite other authors and characters. Don’t copy.

Share if you dare, one of your favorite research experiences. Did you join a ghost hunters group? Did you step outside your comfort zone and into the wild world of your characters?

I have a hard time writing about murder. It’s repulsive. Yet, on some level I thought I needed to understand that, not as a writer, but because some bad things happened to either my student’s, when I was teaching, or to family. Part of me found some answers, but there is still a part of me that “really doesn’t want to understand that level of evil.”

Timothy survived our first round of questioning, so now we put him under fire with our BULLET LIST…

  • Blades, guns, fists or feet?

Fists.

  • Favorite Fairy Tale of all time?

Frog Prince

  • Three titles and their authors sitting on your nightstand/bookcase/table/floor waiting to be read?

1. Jackson Pollock by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, 2. 9800 Savage Road by M.E. Harrigan, 3. Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly

  • Greatest one liner of all time?

“That’ll be the day.”

  • Sarcastic witticism, Southern sweetness or Geeky disdain?

Southern sweetness

  • Strangest item currently taking up space in your writing cave?

A 12 inch ceramic pink pig

Check it out, Timothy shared a pic of said office

Blog Header - Work Area

  • Favorite supernatural creature?

A childhood idea of a bearded God in my grandmother’s back yard.

She must have had a rocking’ backyard to draw that kind of crowd…

Much thanks to Timothy for taking the time to visit with us and bring his upcoming book, THE DOC, along for the ride.

Family - Tim 2011

Tim was raised in Madera, California. He attended, on scholarship, California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, CA. Later, after graduating from California State University Fresno with a BA degree in Zoology, he earned his Teaching Credential. While writing since the college years, he taught biology, chemistry and physics for thirty-six years before retiring. He has written two novels, in 2005 a World War II flashback For Thou Art With Me and in 2010 the conspiracy thriller ebook version The Doc. He is married and lives in Fresno, California. He spends time painting and Civil War reenacting.

You can run Timothy down at the following locations:

Email: bobbitimdesmond@att.net
Amazon author page at: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00694KQQO
Writing at: http://timothydesmond.wordpress.com
Art at: http://artbydesmond.wordpress.com

Melissa Groeling’s New Release LIGHTS OUT sheds a harsh light on tough topics #Suspense #Occult #mystery #thriller

Today we have the pleasure of visiting with our friend, Melissa Groeling. Of course, catching her was a bit of a challenge. She kept muttering something about a new release as she dashed about the blogverse. When she finally fell into our trap stopped, we managed to interrogate ask her a few insightful questions. 

If you feel the need to assist in keeping her calm, don’t forget to pick up your copy of LIGHTS OUT, her second book, and watch your back as you travel through Paul Holten’s dark and disturbing world. 

For now, I give you Melissa!  

*aside to Eerie* Why don’t you go check on your free range Zombie herd, you might be down a few head…

Jami! Hey there! *pauses to catch breath* Just barely made it past those shambling hordes you mentioned down at the end of your driveway. Persistent little buggers, aren’t they? So hey, you know it’s good to be here…in one piece too. Thanks so much for having me once again! I considered babbling through my own post for this second go-round but I was reading these questions you sent me and well, some of them were just too good to pass up. So if I may…

If your character(s) came with a warning label, what would it say?

Paul Holten, my main character from Lights Out, who I tormented relentlessly, has so many issues he’s a lot like those old cars with ten thousand bumper stickers slapped on the back end. With all the edges overlapping, the pictures faded and blackened with exhaust smoke. But the one warning that would be clear would say something like, “Beware: Unstable Ground Ahead.” Now Aaron who is Paul’s boss, would have a warning label in a neon sign over his head. I imagine it would say something like, “Dangerous Curve Ahead.”

Yeah. These two guys are not really conducive to a healthy lifestyle.

 –We all know “healthy” isn’t as much fun as “demented”.

If you turned your laptop/computer/pen/typewriter (yes, some of still use these!) over to your character(s), how would they describe you?

I guarantee that every single one of my characters would describe me as confused and slightly unhinged. They would demand to know why I’m putting them through so much crap. They would probably scream at me to give them something to smile about and I try! I really do but…*sighs* I just can’t. They would call me mean, heartless but I’m trying my best to get them through their issues! Believe me, it’s hard work getting them to see things my way.

 –Tell ’em to pull up their big boy pants cuz there’s no such thing as great art without a little pain and suffering. (Yeah, tried that with Raine, have the scars to show how well that went over…)

What is some of the best advice you were ever given?

I am going to say the most cliché line ever but man, is it the truth: don’t give up. If you give up, you’re only going to regret it later. Then you’ll have nothing but resentment and you’ll end up taking it out on your wife, your husband, your parents, anyone because you didn’t follow through. If you want something bad enough, you go after it and you keep going after it until you get it. Plain and simple.

 –Amen, sister!

Share if you dare, one of your favorite research experiences. Did you join a ghost hunters group? Did you step outside your comfort zone and into the wild world of your characters?

Okay, so this wasn’t really research, per say but when I was writing my first book, Beauty Marks, my main protagonist had been splashed with something…and I’m not going to tell you what because that would give it away. *winks* As a result of being splashed, she was left with some brutal-looking scars. So my job was to find out just where the scars would fall given the distance and the amount of the stuff that was thrown at her. Does that make sense? I hope so. So this was in the middle of February and it was at least 20 degrees outside. I stood on the deck, outside (there was no way I was going to do this indoors—what a mess!) and my dad stood about three feet away from me and tossed a glass of water at me. I jotted down where the water marks were on my T-shirt. Then I changed my shirt, had my dad stand about six feet back and he tossed another glass of water at me. I was laughing so hard I think I ended up snorting half the water up my nose when it hit me. My dad of course was having a field day and my mom was taking pictures. It was insane so apparently I will risk hypothermia for a book!

–Love it! The sacrifices we make for our writing.

We’ve lost Melissa again (Eerie, I told to hold that rope tighter!), but we did get the following bullet list out of her before her disappearing act…

Blades, guns, fists or feet?

Blades

–The bestest things ever!

Favorite Fairy Tale of all time?

Beauty and the Beast

 –I’m amazed at how many writers love this one (including me).

Three titles and their authors sitting on your nightstand/bookcase/table/floor waiting to be read?

White Fire by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Grim Reaper—End of Days by Steve Alten

–mmmm, variety, the spice of life… 

Greatest one liner of all time?

See ya in the funny pages!

Sarcastic witticism, Southern sweetness or Geeky disdain?

Sarcastic witticism

–Of course!

Strangest item currently taking up space in your writing cave?

A plush laughing skull that no longer laughs

 –What does it say about us that we have skulls on our desk? Mine has some lovely tribal artwork…

Favorite supernatural creature?

Hmmmm….Shape-shifter

Ready to find out just how tough it can get for an assassin? Then pick up your copy of LIGHTS OUT by Melissa Groeling. Shoo *waving hands* go forth, my faithful Swamp followers. Just make sure you keep the lights on!

Lights out

Even when the lights are out, he can still see you…

            Paul Holten’s profession doesn’t leave much room for doubt or conscience but he’s reaching his breaking point. The nightmares are getting worse, the jobs are getting harder to finish and the volatile relationship with his boss, Aaron, is falling apart. Now faced with the possibility of an impending death sentence, Paul makes the fatal decision to run. Drawn into one hellish situation after another, he’s forced to confront his dark past—and wonder if perhaps dying isn’t the better option.

Available NOW:

AMAZON     BARNES AND NOBLE   SMASHWORDS    ARe     GOODREADS

Authorpic

Melissa Groeling graduated from Bloomsburg University with a degree in English. She lives, reads and writes in the Philadelphia region and wherever else life happens to send her. She is a hardcore New York Giants fan and loves chocolate. Lights Out is her second novel to date.

Come find me    FACEBOOK    TWITTER    BLOG

 

Put your hands together for our master of thrill–John R. Beyer…THINGS THAT GO BUMP FOR THE HOLIDAYS spotlight #anthology #BlackOpal #thriller

It’s getting closer…that soft shuffle of pages, the tantalizing scent of fresh ink, yes, THINGS THAT GO BUMP FOR THE HOLIDAYS is coming in FOUR days!

Our next guess is debut author, John R. Beyer. A storyteller of thrills and chills, his debut novel, HUNTED, flew the coop in May 2013.

His piece, WINGS OF CHANGE, is part of  our holiday anthology, THINGS THAT GO BUMP FOR THE HOLIDAYS, and will bring forth your goosebumps.

Wings of Change’ –  By John R. Beyer

He believed there might be a second chance at a new beginning with the woman he loved. It took a tragic accident to test that belief to its limit and to shed light on the question: What future lies beyond the grave?

3D Paranormal Anthology

John was nice enough to share a small peek into his novel, HUNTED (available now!)…

A killer without remorse, burning with pride, and having the time of his life, Zachary Marshall is unstoppable – until Detective Jonas Peters unexpectedly arrives in the midst of one of Marshall’s heinous crimes. After a bank robber goes from bad to worse and leaves three dead – including a little girl – Marshall finds himself the target of the most intensive manhunt Riverside, California, has ever witnessed.

Detective Peters becomes frustrated and half-crazed as the case falters due to lack of clues and evidence. Ordered to take a vacation from the the department, before he drives all the other detectives crazy with his constant tirades, he heads to his sister’s in Arizona. But an innocent remark to the media changed the entire scenario – and now the hunter has become the hunted.

Hunted J. Beyer

PROLOGUE
The pock face man sauntered up to the boy who was filling the gas tank on an ’eighty-six, baby blue Ford Mustang.

“Hey, kid, need any help with that?”

With a look of disgust, the baggy-trousered youth ignored the older man, who stood only a few feet away, and kept his eyes on the nozzle he held in his hand.

“Ain’t nice to ignore people, son,” returned the man with a grin in his voice.

“Listen, old man,” started the teenager as he completed draining the last drop of regular unleaded from the hose in his hand. He hated adults who thought they could tell kids how to do things. Didn’t this old fart know he belonged to a gang? One more word from the wino and he would let him have it. “I don’t need—”

“That’s right, boy,” continued the man, now standing dangerously close to the youth. “You just keep your goddamn mouth shut. I’m gonna borrow your car for a little job, and, if you is a good little asshole, I may let you live. Get in and slide over to the passenger’s seat.”

Fear shot through the boy as he stared down the barrel of a large-caliber handgun in the stranger’s hand. He could not move. He could barely breathe, let alone think.

Replacing the fuel hose, the boy gingerly stepped in front of the larger man and entered the vehicle through the driver’s-side door. He thought about jumping out the passenger side, but then he realized this stranger wasn’t fooling around. The boy knew he’d be dead before he got a chance to grab the door handle. He could tell from the look in the man’s eyes. This guy wasn’t sane. Lifeless, cold eyes stared right at him and sent chills down his spine. The boy was scared, truly frightened. This man was one serious badass.

The gunman tossed a large brown duffel bag into the rear seat. He pushed in beside the boy, settled himself behind the wheel, and started the Mustang. Slowly, he drove out of the ARCO gas station.

“I noticed you have one of those No Fear stickers on your rear window.” The man smiled as he turned onto the main roadway. “Is it true?”

“W–what?” the youth stuttered, badly shaken.

“Are you stupid as well as ugly, kid? Don’t you fear nothing?”

“I–I–”

“I bet you peed your pants already.” The man laughed as he turned north onto De Anza Avenue. “You shitheads with those stickers. You go out and skateboard or ride your silly-assed, off-road bikes and think you’re some sort of brave men. You all are nothing but a bunch of weekend weenies. Shit, you’re probably scared of the dark, ain’t you? With your pants hanging below your ass you gotta be some kind of queer or one of those big bad gangstas those niggers are always singing about. Pukin’ sissies!”

He was scared. Out-of-his-mind scared. “Mister, what do you want?”

“Nothing, now,” the driver answered calmly. “I got what I wanted. I got me a car and a young boy.”

“Oh, Jesus.” The youth suddenly felt sick to his stomach and started to reach for the door handle beside him. He stopped as the barrel of the man’s revolver pressed into his left temple.

“That would be real stupid,” the man whispered as he turned into a strip mall parking lot, drove behind the businesses, and slowed the car to a stop. “This is where you get out.”

The young man was suddenly shaking as he realized this nightmare was almost over. “You’re letting me go?”

“What’d ya think I was gonna do? Break your cherry?” The man stopped talking and pointed to a dumpster tucked up into a narrow alleyway behind a small Mom and Pop Liquor store. “Get out and climb into that dumpster. If you stay there until you hear me drive away, you’ll live. If you don’t…well, I guess you won’t.”

The boy didn’t hesitate as he jumped from the car and made it over the side of the dumpster in one tall leap. Quickly, he burrowed down into the trash, trying to put as much distance between him and the carjacker as possible. His heart suddenly skipped a beat as he heard the Mustang’s door open. “Don’t worry, kid. I gotta take a leak.”

There was silence and then the unmistakable sound of approaching footsteps on blacktop.

“Hey, boy! Fear this!”

The youth looked up and saw the barrel of the stranger’s gun pointing directly at his head. It was the last thing he saw.

The man shot the youth twice in the face. “Not bad, boy—very little noise, and it’ll be a while before they find you in the trash.”

The killer looked around, shrugged his muscular shoulders when he realized no one had come to investigate, and walked back to the dead teenager’s car. “No fear.” He chuckled to himself as he pushed the revolver beneath the driver’s seat.

“Fuck him.”

CHAPTER 1

April Phillips glanced right, left, and then right again before she stepped off the southwest corner of Central Avenue and Riverside Drive and into the crosswalk. Her parents always warned her and she always remembered. Hadn’t Sammy Mathews been run over last summer because he had darted into the traffic lanes without even taking a look for oncoming vehicles? April was a smart girl. Everyone told her so and she liked hearing it.

Staying between the two wide yellow lines painted on the asphalt, April walked her bicycle across the busy street. A red truck slowed to a stop and the driver smiled at the twelve-year-old girl in the crosswalk. April wanted to smile or wave back but, again, the advice of her parents sprang to her memory and she didn’t dare.

“Never get involved with strangers,” her mother had told her time and time again.

She always followed that advice. Safely on the other side of the street, April lifted her little pink BMX up onto the sidewalk and started riding west down the cement path toward Riverside Plaza.

April was very excited this morning. She had one hundred and forty-two dollars in the left front pocket of her jeans, which she planned on depositing into the Citibank located near her home on Laura Lane. First, of course, she had to open an account. But she had her parents’ permission and knew they were proud of her. She had done a good job saving that money from the small, around-the-house chores she did every week. She was still too young to do any serious baby-sitting, but in a year or two she would get all the sitting jobs she wanted, and then the savings would really start to grow.

Slowing the BMX as she approached the bank, April took a couple of deep breaths to calm herself. Then she slowly climbed off the brightly-painted bicycle and locked it to a steel rack by the front door. Patting the money safely tucked into her pocket, she pushed open the heavy glass door and walked into the foyer of the bank.

Today was the day. She was going to be an investor.

Want more? I bet you do, and I know where you can get more for your fix…

AMAZON       Black Opal Books       Barnes & Noble    Smashwords

photo 1

John R. Beyer Ed.D. spent nearly a decade in a Southern California law enforcement agency dividing his time between street patrol and as a member of the elite Special Weapons Assault Team (SWAT). Moving from law enforcement he has spent two decades in public education as classroom teacher and administrator. He is currently the founder and head-writer for J & L Research and Exploration blog and spends any free time traveling nationally and internationally with his spouse, Laureen, for the next ‘big’ blog. Being a native Californian he lives on a small ranch in the High Desert near the rural town of Phelan. His next novel, ‘Soft Target’ will be released in 2014.

GIVE IT UP FOR BONNIE HEARN HILL AND CHRISTOPHER ALLEN POE…

Welcome back, my fearless readers! Today I’m thrilled to introduce Bonnie Hearn Hill and Christopher Allen Poe. Two extremely talented authors who have some vitally important advice to share on the one aspect most writers dread facing…editing.  Don’t mind the shuffling corpses wandering outside, I’ve made sure to have the shack sprayed by our local Zombie Pest Control service to keep them under control.  I think Dreamer Dwarf brought some lovely pasteries, and Eerie’s supplied the beverages.  Have a seat and give an enthusastic welcome to Bonnie and Chris! Don’t forget to pipe up at the end for your chance at winning DIGITAL INK!

THE EDITING GENIE

Bonnie Hearn Hill & Christopher Allan Poe

BHH: Thanks for hanging out with us today, Jami. We appreciate it. As a fiction writer yourself, I’m sure you’ll agree that one of the most difficult jobs for a writer is being your own editor. We all need an editing genie, but before our manuscripts even make it to our publishers, they have to be clean.

CAP: That means you need to be your own editing genie. We’ve each picked a few of our favorite tips from DIGITAL INK to discuss today. Here’s a basic one. Know the difference between your and you’re. Their, there, and they’re. To, two, and too. If you don’t know the difference, look it up. The Internet is for more than just online stalking and porn.

BHH: Obviously, most authors know the difference. That’s why they’re called typos, but that doesn’t matter to the reader. They’ll forgive your first mistake, maybe even your second.

CAP: Soon, though, you’ll start to sound like a black-toothed hillbilly, spinning tales of pig grease.

BHH: I think I hear a banjo in the distance, Chris.

CAP: That’s right, you do. And the reader will too.

WICKED: Actually I think that’s the Swamp Thing’s cousin…or maybe the Prankster Duo is practicing, either way, I get it!

CAP: The easiest way to spot these errors immediately on the page is to learn to interpret you’re as you are while reading. They’re as they are. Too should be read as well. You’d be surprised how easy it is to retrain your brain, and this alone will knock out 90 percent of the minor typos.

BHH: Absolutely, and did you know that 57 percent of statistics are made up on the spot?

CAP: I did not know that. Thank you.

BHH: Here’s one that I see in my own work as well as my clients’ work. Words and phrases that belong in The Old Words Home.

CAP: You mean words and phrases like commenced, ace in the hole, forthwith, bump in the night, toiled—

BHH: Exactly. Commenced was fine when Saroyan used it, but there are less clunky ways to get your point across now. Check your manuscript. Ask yourself if the language is fresh. If you spot a tired word or phrase, send it to the Old Words Home. Don’t worry. They’ll have nurses and shuffleboard, and you won’t have to deal with those words in your writing.

CAP: That’s not the same as The Word Spa. I actually have a file for that on my computer, and I know you do. That’s where you send your wonderful scenes and speeches that really don’t belong where you put them. They may not even belong in the book you are writing, but they are wonderful enough that you know you can use them one day. Send them to the Word Spa. They’ll get massages and pedicures and be perfect as ever when you’re ready for them.

WICKED:  Hmmm…a day at the spa…maybe I need to become one of those words…think of the pampering…

BHH: When editing, don’t forget to always focus on to-be verbs as well. Is, was, were. Usually, when you see these gems in your manuscript, you’ve probably created a weak sentence construction, which forces you to use a dreaded ING verb. For example:

Jenna was trying to behave.

Now look at the alternative.

Jenna tried to behave.

CAP: See the difference. Fewer words, more flavor. Problem solved.

BHH: Each time you see the dreaded was word, ask yourself if you can replace it with a power verb. I think this brings us to our overall point. I was an editor for many years, and even the best of us miss typos sometimes. So how can you be expected to catch everything and be objective when you wrote the manuscript?

CAP: We’re not saying that it’s easy, but it’s necessary. If you self-publish, and most modern writers probably will at some point, you have the added burden of dozens of jobs that publishers used to take care of. Hell, even if you land a deal with one of the big six publishers, you’ll soon learn that they’re not tolerant of sloppy work. Neither are agents. You have to learn to edit yourself. Plain and simple.

BHH: That still doesn’t cover one of the biggest problems authors face. Mental fatigue. It occurs when we’ve read certain passages in our work too many times, and our brains start filling in ghost words and punctuation that isn’t there.

CAP: Or when our minds cover up garbage that is there, and we read it differently than it actually appears on the page.

BHH: Here are some old tricks, and some new ones, that we use to keep a fresh eye. Hands down, the best ways to catch typos is to read out loud because it forces you to use different parts of your brain. Not only will you see more errors, but troublesome sentences become obvious when you speak them.

CAP: Another excellent way to catch typos is to print your book out and read from that. Or if you have an e-reader, convert your Word document and do a sweep on your Kindle or Nook. That will also change the way the type appears in front of you and force you to see things differently.

BHH: That way, your reader can focus on your killer story, instead of the errors in your punctuation. One of my students tells me she actually has the creepy Kindle robot voice read her story back to her. She says that makes it easy to pick out the awful stuff.

What about you? Tell us your favorite editing tips, and that will enter you into a drawing for a copy of DIGITAL INK.

WICKED:  Huge thanks to Bonnie and Chris for this post! I know many *cough—Eerie* will benefit from this advice.  Remember—‘Let’s eat Grandpa’ and ‘Let’s eat, Grandpa’ have two very different results!

    Bonnie Hearn Hill is the author of six thrillers and four young adult books as well a nonfiction title. www.bonniehhill.com.

Christopher Allan Poe, a Los Angeles-based touring musician, is the author of THE PORTAL, a paranormal thriller, and co-author, with Bonnie, of DIGITAL INK: WRITING KILLER FICTION IN THE E-BOOK AGE. www.christopherallanpoe.com. Their website is www.digitalinkbooks.com, and they welcome questions from readers.

Give a Great Swamp Welcome to Alison Stone…

Okay everyone, settle down and take a seat. 

Eerie, one of your Zombie’s is munching on the Hellhound’s tail.  Mischevious and Adile, if you two don’t knock it off, I’m tying a boulder to your tails and dropping you in Dreamer’s moat.  Smokey, you’re creating a haze even Snarky can’t cut through.  Quirky, could you open that window behind my Knight? Let’s get some Swamp Gas in here.  Prankster Duo, for the love of Pete would you please stop trying to get Angel Boy to launch from the ceiling beams!

Finally! Are you all ready?

Great, so be good and give it up for our guest-the most awesome Alison Stone!  Her debut novel, Random Acts, is now available so afterwards, we’re doing a trip to the bookstore!

  Listen up and find out how she got sucked into the crazy world of writing…

Why do I write?

I ask myself this question every so often. Like when I’m stuck on a plot point or when I’d rather be reading or watching TV or cleaning the toilet… Yes, some days it seems like I’d rather be doing anything other than writing. So, why do I do it?

Is it for the money? (Okay, you over there, stop laughing.) Even if they don’t admit it, I think most writers hope their book will be the next big thing. But who can actually predict these things?  I’d settle for a nice income, never mind a seven-figure income. Yet, if it’s income I’m truly after, why write? I could go back to my former career as an engineer and make far more money than I do as a writer. However, an office job wouldn’t give me the flexibility I have as a writer. Don’t get me wrong, I work long hours crafting my stories, but I’m home if my kids need me for something—like a ride or dinner. J

But why write? Is it because I have the burning desire to tell a story? I can’t say I have one particular story that needs to be told. Rather I have a lot of ideas bouncing around my head. Once the idea to try writing took hold, I couldn’t let go. There is something about the challenge of writing and fitting all the pieces of the story puzzle together (I write romantic suspense) that intrigues me. It occupies my mind.

The other night my husband and I went out for dinner and we discussed my new career. My debut novel, Random Acts, had just been released. I told him how I really hoped this new career would provide income to help send our children to college. Then, like usual, I started to doubt myself. Wouldn’t my time be better spent working at a job that paid me an hourly rate or one that paid a salary? My awesome husband equated my budding writing career to starting a business. My husband, an engineer, told me one of his co-workers quit to start a machine shop. He has the expense of a new building, machines and salaries. My writing career is also a new venture, but my overhead is low. I have the expense of my laptop and my time. I love the analogy. I have worked hard over the years to build a solid foundation. From here, I need to continue to produce quality books and build my readership. I am excited my second book, Too Close to Home, is coming out on August 7th. I also have other books in the works. From here, I will grow my business.

Writing is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. A few years ago, shortly after I signed with my wonderful agent, I received a crushing rejection from a New York publishing house.  This was not the first time my work had been passed up to the senior editor for possible acquisition only to be rejected, albeit with a “good rejection.”

The editor raved about my “clean writing style” and she was “eager to get Alison under contract and happy to read anything she submits.”  But this was the third time I had come so close, but yet so far. I was ready to throw in the towel, when my wonderful friend and critique partner—who always gave it to me straight— sent me his e-mail:

If an editor said “I’m eager to get her under contract” I would have swooned. Do people still swoon? You’ve got it, kid. Don’t give up. At the very least, what a model for your kids on what it takes to succeed. Am I blowing smoke up your derriere? Nope. Close only counts when people use it as an excuse to bow out. Look at the many writers who struggled. I’m talking good writers who managed to believe in themselves no matter what. There are too many fools out there who make it because they are blind to their own BS. You just need to find your own unique voice, blend it to the “smooth, clean writing style.”

This e-mail is over three years old, but it still sits in my inbox. I write because I enjoy it. I write because I hope to have a solid career. I continue to write even when the mountain seem insurmountable because I want to show my kids that sometimes you have to work hard—very hard—to achieve your dreams.

Much thanks to Alison for braving our Swamp and visiting with us!

Alison Stone graduated with a degree in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech. After working in Corporate America for a number of years, she retired to raise her young family. Soon the writing bug bit. After years of conferences, critique groups and writing, Alison sold two manuscripts that will be released in 2012. She claims it was easier to earn her engineering degree. Random Acts is her debut novel. To learn more about Alison Stone please visit www.AlisonStone.com.

Check out Random Acts

Second chances can have a terrible sense of timing.

As a child, watching her mother always pick the wrong man left Danielle Carson wary of opening her heart to anyone—except Patrick Kingsley. But circumstances came between them and left Danielle with a broken heart. Now she buries the pain of what might have been by channeling all her energy into her career. When a family crisis brings her back to her hometown, she is forced to face the past—and the disturbing fact that her sister’s car accident was staged to mask a brutal beating.

A police officer and widower, Patrick guards his heart as fiercely as he guards his beloved daughter. Seeing Danielle again unexpectedly reignites their old flame, but no way will he introduce a woman into his daughter’s life. Certainly not one whose values on faith and family are so different from his own.

Despite their best intentions, they are drawn together—until Danielle learns Patrick had a hand in putting her sister in harm’s way. Her fragile trust is crushed, but Patrick is the only man who can help her stop the villain before everything they both love is destroyed. Faith, family…and their second chance at forever.

Run, don’t walk, and get your copy now!  Available at:

Samhain Publishing: http://store.samhainpublishing.com/alison-stone-pa-1705.html

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Random-Acts-ebook/dp/B00795G1X4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334076604&sr=8-1

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/random-acts-alison-stone/1108890294?ean=9781609288242&itm=1&usri=alison+stone

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Random-Acts/book-OSXUgDoMQ0aVm-JoFxmVXg/page1.html?s=QoeSfSCRk0m4in6w2_-prQ&r=1

Also available at Sony and iTunes.

#AmWriting ~ Lessons on craft by Stephen King

Saturday was our group’s monthly Sat meeting at Smokey’s house. Good food, good conversation. Eerie brought up Stephen King (I’m finally getting around to reading Under the Dome). One of his comments really struck me.

He said, one of the remarkably great things King can do is to write a novel with 150 characters and yet, he always keeps them straight in the reader’s mind.

As i was continuing to read the massive Under the Dome (hard cover, talk about heavy), it suddenly occurred to me there’s another side to that.

Sure, there might be 150 characters in the novel. Yes, Stephen King reminds me of them just in time to make sure I remember who everyone is.

But in addition, I think one of the great things he does lies in Suspense.

Not every character is important as the handful who’ll determine the ending. Heck, in a King novel, I expect most of ‘em to die eventually.

What King does in his greatness, is by having the few who will be the ‘saviors’ of the story, then adding in clues and hints to OTHER characters.

We, the readers, know this information.

We know those ‘saviors’ need that information.

And yet, it’s the secondary characters who find it out.

As a reader, I’m shouting, “Go tell such-and-such, he needs to know.”

But they don’t listen. These characters don’t realize the importance of the event like readers do.

And that, by Stephen King, is suspense.

I know what the main characters need to know. I know who has that information. But as a reader, I can’t make the right people talk to each other while there’s still time.

And this is why King is one hell of a master of the craft. If even a little rubs off on me while I’m reading, it is a blessing.

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